The second-generation Apple Watch Ultra offers more performance in a wearable that looks like the original. Here’s how the upgraded wearable stands against its predecessor.
Apple released a new Apple Watch Ultra 2 for extreme athletes
Apple unveiled the first Apple Watch Ultra in 2022, a rugged device for extreme activities in a different design than other Apple Watch models. The company announced the next generation in September 2022, calling it the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
It has an updated display, a new processor and other internal elements, and a new way for users to interact with it. The new device is also carbon neutral as Apple works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across materials, electricity, and transportation.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – Specifications
|Specifications||Apple Watch Ultra||Apple Watch Ultra 2|
|Display||Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display
Up to 2,000 nits
|Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display
Up to 3,000 nits
|Processor||S8 SiP||S9 SiP|
Electrical heart sensor
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Electrical heart sensor
Third-generation optical heart sensor
|Water Resistance||100 meters||100 meters|
|Battery Life||Up to 36 hours||Up to 36 hours|
Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)
U1 Ultra Wideband
Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)
Second-generation Ultra Wideband
|Other Sensors||Emergency SOS
|Colors||Natural Titanium||Natural Titanium|
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – Case sizes, materials, and weight
The dimensions of both versions remain unchanged. Apple presents both iterations of the Apple Watch Ultra in a 49mm format, which is bigger than other models in the Apple Watch series.
They are constructed from titanium, ensuring durability and resistance to corrosion, which is par for the course for a rugged-inspired device.
Regarding the other physical attributes of the Apple Watch Ultra and the Apple Watch Ultra 2, both devices share identical dimensions and weight. The watches measure 49mm by 44mm by 14.4mm, maintaining a substantial yet comfortable size that accommodates the unique feature set offered by the devices.
Since they can both be used while swimming, enhanced water resistance is rated to 100 meters under ISO 22810 for both devices. Apple also says they can be used for recreational scuba diving to 40 meters.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – Display
While the Apple Watch Ultra has a brightness of up to 2,000 nits for the Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display, the Ultra 2 bumps up to 3,000 nits. Moreover, the display can lower its brightness to just one nit to avoid disturbing others in dark environments.
The Modular Ultra watch face is a notable addition, which leverages the large display to present real-time data at the outermost edge. It offers the highest number of complications of any Apple digital watch face to date.
Each Apple Watch Ultra variant boasts a sharp display resolution of 410 x 502 pixels, ensuring clear and vibrant visuals for a better user experience. The high resolution results in detailed and crisp rendering of texts, images, and other content on the watch’s screen.
New Modular watch face on Apple Watch Ultra 2
The updated display structure enhances the flashlight function on the Apple Watch Ultra 2, allowing users to turn the Digital Crown to increase the brightness twofold for improved illumination momentarily.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – Processor
After using the S8 on the first Apple Watch Ultra, Apple upgraded the processor or System in Package (SiP) on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 with the S9 chip. The S9 enables an on-device Siri capable of confidential and secure health data retrieval and recording.
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has a revamped 4-core Neural Engine, which handles machine learning operations up to two times faster than its predecessor.
Furthermore, the dictation feature on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has seen up to a 25% increase in accuracy thanks to the S9 chip. The enhancement guarantees more exact voice-to-text translations, improving the user experience to ensure quick responses.
The processor’s Ultra Wideband chip has been upgraded to a second-generation version in the Apple Watch Ultra 2, enhancing the precision of locating a nearby iPhone.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – Health and fitness
The two Apple Watch Ultra models have health and fitness features for athletes or other people. The orange-colored Action button on the side of each model can instantly start workouts.
For events such as triathlons and duathlons, or any activity involving a combination of swimming, biking, or running, the Multisport workout feature in watchOS 9 later includes automatic detection to transition between different workouts seamlessly. The Apple Watch Ultra models have sufficient battery longevity to support most users through a lengthy triathlon.
A new modular watch face [left] and the interface used when diving [right]
The Action button can start workouts and facilitate the transition to a Custom Workout’s next phase or the Multisport exercise’s next stage. Additionally, it can be used to mark segments for optimal pacing and distance projections for track runners.
The Oceanic+ app on both models enables recreational scuba diving and freediving, providing users with critical data such as depth and elapsed time during a freedive, along with target depth alerts.
Thanks to watchOS and physical sensors, both Apple Watch Ultra models can log mental health with the Mindfulness app, track temperature so women can understand their menstrual cycle with the Cycle Tracking app, measure blood oxygen levels, take an ECG from the wrist, and monitor sleep stages.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – Battery and storage
The battery on the Apple Watch Ultra can last up to 36 hours on Wi-Fi or 18 hours with cellular connectivity. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has the same 36-hour battery life in “normal” usage but can increase that to 72 hours in Low Power Mode.
The claim of all-day battery longevity is based on the following usage pattern of 180 instances of checking the time, receiving 180 notifications, utilizing apps for 90 minutes, and engaging in a 60-minute workout while playing music through the Apple Watch using Bluetooth, all within 36 hours.
Battery life was verified through tests performed by Apple with pre-release versions of the Apple Watch Ultra models equipped with GPS and Cellular and paired with an iPhone.
Additionally, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has a storage capacity of 64GB, which is double that of the Apple Watch Ultra at 32GB. The increased storage allows more apps, music, and other media to be stored directly on the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – Other features
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 introduces a new way for users to interact and control their wearable without touching the display. When users press their thumb and index finger together twice, they can open the Smart Stack from a watch face, answer calls, scroll through widgets, and enable other features.
Powered by the enhanced Neural Engine in the S9 chip, the feature uses a new machine-learning algorithm to analyze data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor. The algorithm identifies the patterns of minor wrist motions and blood flow alterations that take place when a double tap gesture is performed with the thumb and index finger.
The S9 chip also introduces a Siri assistant with offline capabilities. As long as a user’s request doesn’t require information from the internet, Siri can offer fast and reliable responses, such as accessing health data, setting timers, and starting workouts.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – Price
The original Apple Watch Ultra was priced at $799. Fortunately, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 keeps the same price of $799 despite the device’s new features and upgraded components.
However, similar to other older products, Apple doesn’t directly sell the original Apple Watch Ultra anymore. It doesn’t even list any in the refurbished section of the online store, at least not at the time of writing, but that may change.
Despite Apple shifting only to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 at retail and online, there will still be supplies of the first-generation model at third-party retailers for a while.
Every Apple Watch variant ships exclusively in a natural titanium color. There are no alternatives for either color or material of the Apple Watch itself.
There are a selection of bands available, including the Alpine Loop “for outdoor adventure,” a Trail Loop for general workouts, and the Ocean Band intended for water sports and recreational diving. All are offered in a variety of colors.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra – What to buy
Despite some enhancements, the new Apple Watch Ultra 2 probably won’t be necessary for every Apple Watch Ultra user. Some options to consider are the brighter display, greater storage, and Low Power Mode.
The Apple Watch Ultra is already a highly capable smartwatch with most of the same features as the second-generation model. Its display, health and fitness functionalities, and battery life are commendable, and for many, these features will still be more than sufficient for daily use.
The double-tap gesture used on the Apple Watch Ultra 2
Unless users have a unique need that can only be met by the Apple Watch Ultra 2, they are unlikely to miss out on most features if they stick to the first-generation model.
When considered as a first-time purchase or an upgrade from the standard Apple Watch line, there’s very little reason to use the older model than the second-generation Apple Watch Ultra. It’s a premium model so potential purchasers may not necessarily be swayed by any cost savings from tracking down the first-generation model.
The second-generation Apple Watch Ultra is the best example of Apple’s work in producing a wearable computer. It may fall into the trap of Apple’s second-gen devices being iterations on the first without going all-out on new features, but for the audience it seeks, the latest edition doesn’t need to do that.
Where to buy the Apple Watch Ultra 2
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is available to preorder from Apple, with availability from September 22.